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Environmental Implementation Review: Νew way to help Member States apply EU rules benefits citizens, administrations and economy

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Improving the application of EU rules on waste management, nature and biodiversity, air quality, water quality and management.

Yesterday, the Commission adopted the Environmental Implementation Review, a new tool to improve implementation of European environmental policy and commonly agreed rules. This is the beginning of a new process. The Commission will address with Member States the causes of implementation gaps and find solutions before problems become urgent.

Full implementation of EU environment legislation could save the EU economy €50 billion every year in health costs and direct costs to the environment. According to Eurobarometer, 3 out of 4 citizens consider European laws necessary to protect the environment in their country, and 4 out of 5 agree that European institutions should be able to check whether the laws are being correctly applied.

Karmenu Vella, Commissioner for Environment, Fisheries and Maritime Affairs, said: “Patchy and uneven implementation of environmental rules helps no one. Improving how environmental laws are applied benefits citizens, public administrations and the economy.  This is where the Environmental Implementation Review (EIR) comes in. The European Commission is committed to helping Member States make sure that the quality of their citizens’ air, water and waste management is of the highest standard. This Review provides the information, the tools and the timetable to do this”.

The package includes: 28 country reports which map national strengths, opportunities and weaknesses; a Communication summarising the political conclusions of the country reports and examining common trends, in areas such as air quality, waste management and the circular economy, water quality and protecting nature and biodiversity; and recommendations for improvements to all Member States.

Despite many local success stories in nature and biodiversity, the implementation of EU nature legislation needs to be stepped up, as confirmed by the EU Fitness Check of the Birds and Habitats Directives. Otherwise biodiversity loss will continue in the EU, compromising the capacity of ecosystems to provide for human needs in the future.

environmental-implementation-reviewIn water quality and management, most Member States struggle to reach full compliance on collection and treatment of urban wastewater, and 13 face EU legal action. Nitrates concentrations and eutrophication levels remain a serious issue in nearly all Member States.

There are a number of root causes common to several Member States: ineffective coordination between administrative levels, insufficient capacity, and lack of knowledge and data.

The launch of the EIR package will be followed by discussions with each Member State, the launch of a peer-to-peer tool to allow Member States to help each other with expertise, and political debates in the Environment Council.


When commonly agreed rules are not properly implemented, the Commission can take legal action. In order to avoid this route, through the process of the Environmental Implementation Review, the Commission will work with Member States to enable them to better apply environmental policies and rules.

The Environmental Implementation Review (EIR) is part of the Commission’s Better Regulation policy, which includes improving implementation of existing legislation and policies.

For more information

SOURCE: European Commission